Thursday, December 13, 2012

LHP Review: Illuminating Bible Art


Sink, Susan. The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Pentateuch, Psalms, Gospels, and Acts. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2007. 126 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

Sink, Susan. The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Wisdom Books and Prophets. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008. 112 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

Sink, Susan. The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Historical Books, Letters and Revelation. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2021. 138 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

(All three volumes are available as a set.)

I am blessed two own the complete set of The Saint John's Bible. We at LHP QBR have devoted time to each of the volumes as they have been released to the public.

The idea of a modern hand-written illuminated Bible still staggers my mind. Consider the detail put into this tiny portion of a page:

And then there is all of the major and incidental art!

Highlighting and explaining the art of The Saint John's Bible is the purpose of her trilogy of reader's guides.

The Art of The Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide brings text and illumination together for reflection. This guide opens up the significance of elements in the illuminations, points out recurring visual motifs that connect the stories within and across the volumes, and offers insight into the thought processes and artistic vision behind the planning and execution of the images. (Publisher's website)

The red volume highlights the Penteteuch, Psalms, and Gospels and Acts. Green focuses on Wisdom Books and Prophets. Blue guides you through Historical Books and Letters and Revelation.

As an illuminated Bible produced for a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastic community and College, readers will not be surprised to hear of the theological preferences, practices, and emphases of that community, including references to Islam alongside Judaism and Christianity (red, 23, 51), liturgy as "work of the people", (red, 37), "legend" as a Bible genre (gree, 7), feminine references to God (green, 10, 48), and emphasis on "experience" (green, 44), and the "harrowing of hell" (green, 100).

As a Lutheran, I appreciated the inclusion of the Apocrypha (translated and included by Martin Luther in His German Bible and considered worthy to read, but separated from the inspired Scriptures), but not the NRSV Bible translation. For me, that will remain the long-term "flaw" of  TSJB.

Not all of our review journal's readers can afford a $400 coffee table Bible set. 

As individual volumes or a $29.95 set, I believe nearly all of our readers could afford and would benefit from these detailed explanations of the Biblical import and artistic intention behind every piece of art in all seven volumes, not to mention the exceptionally creative ways that "missing lines" of Bible text were included on their proper pages.

For even more information, visit

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

View article...